Joan Noble, 1930-2021

Joan was born Joan Lister, in Liverpool on 29th May 1930.


She fell in love with skating after being taken to The Blackpool Ice Show, as a childhood treat. She was 9 years old and started skating at The Liverpool Ice Palace immediately.


Our records show that Joan joined the Association in the following year, 1940, and passed her preliminary figure and free tests on 9th May 1940.

Joan showed a lot of early talent and was encouraged to take tests in both figure and ice dance and in fact passed her bronze figures, free and dance tests all on the same day, in 1941. Skating during the war years must have been difficult and became even more challenging when the rink was hit by a bomb.


Finding ice during the war meant that the Liverpool and Manchester skaters often shared ice time and it was at this time that Joan cemented some lifelong friendships with the Manchester girls, Wendy Jackson (Utley), Joan Dewhirst (Slater) and Angela Yates (Aked) all later destined to coaches or judges.


Joan also tried her hand at pair skating with Harry Glick as her partner.


When the war ended Joan passed her silver tests but to work for her gold, she made an important move to London and Richmond, where she joined Arnold Gerschwiler’s team of skaters. She fitted in well and was partnered with Hans Gerschwiler for ice dance but her priority was to pass her gold tests and The Junior Championships.


The move and Joan’s hard work paid off when she won the 1947 British Junior Ladies Championship by quite a margin and was asked to go on an exhibition tour to rinks all over the UK.


By 1949 Joan was selected to skate in both European and World championships but disappointingly had to withdraw from Worlds with food poisoning.


The early 1950’s saw Joan return to Liverpool, as a professional, to embark on a career as a coach. Among her pupils were future British Pairs Champions Joyce Coates and Tony Holles.


However, skating was to take a back seat while Joan raised her family and she did not return to the ice until the 1960’s. Joan chose not to return to coaching but to judging but as a professional she had to apply for re-instatement as an amateur, which was not freely granted in those days. The decision was at the discretion of the Council and Joan had to vigorously defend her application, which surprisingly was eventually granted.


So, in 1965, she started a judging career that was exemplary. After the usual probationary period she was placed on both the figure and ice dance 3rd class panels. The fact that she was able to judge both disciplines made her a popular choice of judge for tests and competitions and as a result of this and of attending as many of both as she could, she swiftly moved up the panels as well as joining the pairs panel.


Joan work ethic was noticed by the Association and in the early 1970’s was co-opted onto both the Figure and Ice Dance Committees. This was later followed by election on to both committees and the full Council. In fact, Joan served on the NSA/NISA committees for over 30 years.


Joan’s reputation as a competent and very fair judge stood her in good stead and she was appointed onto the ISU International panel to be followed by elevation to the ISU Championship panel.


During her international judging career Joan judged at Skate America, Skate Canada, The Nebelhorn, NHK, in Japan as well as European and World Championships.


At home Joan organised the Primary and Novice Championships and helped with Juniors and Seniors at various times. She also acted as a mentor for new judges and was always on hand to give encouragement, but she was also a stickler for the rules.


Joan was a thoroughly nice person to everyone, and her love of skating saw her as a national champion, international competitor, coach, judge to the highest standard, Team Leader for GB skating Team at international competition and Championships, competition organiser, mentor and committee member. She was a member of NSA/NISA/BIS for 81 years. In fact, she had covered almost all aspects possible and was universally liked and respected.


Joan is survived by her sons David and Barry, her 4 grandsons and great grandchildren. Joan died in Liverpool on 10th December 2021


Her funeral will take place at Springwood Crematorium, Springwood Avenue, Allerton, Liverpool L25 7UN at 1pm on Wednesday 5th January 2022.


Written by Elaine Hooper, BIS Historian